Words by the Randy Bee
For it’s 20th birthday party Hot August Blues recieved it’s biggest gift from Mother Nature. Saturday was perhaps one of the most pleasant weather days of the entire summer. Beautiful sunshine and blue skies with none of that pulverizing humidity we have been experiencing all summer set the scene in the always breath taking Oregon Ridge Park. You could tell that the climate really added to the upbeat vibe of the attendees. Everybody seemed to be in a chill mood, ready to party, and all about making the most of this wonderfully organized, end of summer gathering. Little kids and aging hipsters were all having a nice time dancing in front of one of the two stages, learning how to juggle, playing Frisbee, or relaxing under a shade tree. There was a wonderful assortment of delicious fare provided by friendly vendors, plenty of cold Magic Hat beer, Two Oceans Wine and actual cabin styled restrooms where you could wash up and refresh before heading back out to party. Kudos once again to Brad Selko and staff for once again putting together a people friendly event that went off without a hitch. No wonder folks travel from as far off as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware to attend.
Oh, I guess being a music festival I should talk a little about the excellent acts I saw there. Local favorite Cris Jacobs Band played early on the main stage to a very appreciative crowd. Cris, ex of the late great band Bridge, led his band, which featured a wonderful pedal steel player through a set of songs from his recently released record “Songs For Cats And Dogs”.
Locos Por Juana who traveled from Miami to play the festival had the crowd up and dancing with their mix of Latin Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Reggaeton. The quartet which featured a trombone player a and dreadlocked latin rapper from Colombia added a world beat flavor to Hot August Blues.
Switch gears to the side stage where Bovine Social Club who came down from New York gathered new fans with their twisted version of what made the “Grand Old Opry” grand. Frontman Samuel St. Johns writes cool songs that he sings in an earthy beer soaked voice.
Next up was one of my favorite new bands, J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound. JC and his KILLER band had the crowd shaking their booties with their brand of old school Chicago funk & soul sound. Frontman J.C. Brooks conjures up the same feeling I had when I first heard the great James Brown, and is a force to be reckoned with.
Headliners Trombone Shorty and Govt. Mule brought the crowd to a fever pitch with their sets. Folks went wild over the sounds that sung into their ears every time Shorty put his lips to brass. Guitarist Warren Haynes showed once again why he is one of the hardest working and best in the business. Haynes sat in on Shorty’s set and Shorty returned the favor by bring a horn to Govt. Mule for a great version of the classic “The Letter” where he was assisted by DC sax legend Ron Holloway. After Gov’t Mule ended their set with a version of Led Zep’s “How Many More Times” the folks surely went home happy. It was a fitting ending to a great day of fun and music. Hope to see you next year at the 2013 Hot August Blues & Roots Festival!